26 January 2016

The U.S. Military Could Wipe Out This Tiny Pacific Island Bird

John R. Platt covers the environment, technology, philanthropy, and more for Scientific American,ConservationLion, and other publications.

A planned Defense Department training site in the Northern Marianas threatens to destroy the Tinian monarch’s last bit of habitat.

In 2004, the United States government declared that a tiny and imperiled Pacific island bird called the Tinian monarch had pulled back from the brink of extinction and removed it from the endangered species list

A little over a decade later, that rare success story appears to be at risk. The new threat? The U.S. government. 

The Department of Defense has proposed a major new training site on Tinian, the 39-square-mile Mariana island on which the bird lives. If approved, the live-fire training complex—a place where the military could practice weapons targeting—would remove about 2,000 acres of Tinian monarch habitat and take over one-eighth of the island. 


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